BIBDSEED: Helping single mothers to be financially independent

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BIBDSEED participants preparing food packages. Image: BIBD

Aziq Azman
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Brunei has been moving heavily on bringing its younger people into the entrepreneurial world, with several business guidance schemes and empowerment programmes cropping up to assist them.

Through the various extending hands of the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) and some corporates, Brunei now sees a rise in the number of entrepreneurs contributing well to its non-oil and gas economic sector.

One such programme is BIBDSEED, a business empowerment programme developed by Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) established last year to assist single and struggling mothers.

Through the programme, mothers were taught the necessary skills to make products, package them and market them to the public – such that in every expo or related events, they can be seen around promoting their homemade bakeries and other food products.

The BIBDSEED project came out in October last year as a result of a collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

BIBD’s Head of Government Relations and Special Projects Haji Mohd Yusri Haji Wahsalfelah told The Bruneian that the collaboration has directed the bank to the struggles of mothers in underprivileged families.

“Through discussions, we learnt of their difficulties – so we came back and ask how to make a difference for them?” he said, adding that as a result, the BIBDSEED programme was born.

The new programme entailed that BIBD will provide single and struggling mothers with the technical knowledge to manage businesses including accounting and book-keeping skills, as well as the basics on how to set up a company.

“So, these mothers can create their own products that are unique and distinctive to be pushed into the market, create their own audience or tap into existing markets” Hj Mohd Yusri said.

“Through guidance by subject matter experts, we also encourage them to go onto online business platforms for more exposure while at the same time keep their operational expenditures within their budgets,” he added.

BIBDSEED programme chose its participants through a collaboration with Brunei’s Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), Islamic Dakwah Centre (PDI) and the Community Development Department (JAPEM).

These partners would provide BIBD with a list of mothers in need who are willing to participate in the business incubator programme, where they will then be inducted into a training process for accounting and business models then, they pitch their products to a panel of judges from the bank.

“When we started there were 65 registered mothers. The programme was devised in such a way for them to come to a self-realization of being empowered and doing business in the right way, getting the right products for the right customers,” Hj Mohd Yusri said.

A highlight of the program’s achievements was the reception towards two of the participants in a regional event. “We sent two SEED members to KK to participate in an international expo, and they sold out their products,” said the head of government relations and special projects.

Participant of the BIBDSEED programme explaining her products to visitors. Image: BIBD

The long-term goal of the programme, he said, is to see single mothers becoming independent on their own and contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.

“If we are able to assist even 20 percent of the underprivileged individuals in the country, it can create a positive economic impact, locally and internationally. Their success can also create ripples in economic progress by creating more employment for our locals as they continue to grow into more established companies,” said Hj Mohd Yusri.

In turn, he added that the BIBDSEED programme is also aiming to help Brunei achieve its Vision 2035 that is to reach a certain quality of life that ensures stability to the economy.

“InsyaAllah we will continue to work closely with the government to achieve this goal and beyond,” said the bank’s head of government relations and special projects.

The Bruneian